Astronaut Jim Voss is slated to head for the International Space Station March 8 aboard NASA's space shuttle Discovery, the beginning of a four and one-half month stint in orbit for the University of Colorado at Boulder alum and his two colleagues.
The Discovery mission, STS-102, will conduct the first ever "crew exchange" aboard the space station. Flight Engineers Voss and Susan Helms, along with Russian Commander Yury Usachev, will take the places of the Expedition One Crew, which has been on the space station four months. The Expedition One crew includes American Commander Bill Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev, who have been preparing the space station for research experiments.
Discovery is slated for launch at 6:42 a.m. EST from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The March 8 shuttle flight is scheduled to last 12 days.
Voss, who received a master's degree in aerospace engineering sciences from CU-Boulder in 1974, is one of 15 astronaut alumni from CU who have flown in space. One of CU-Boulder's most active astronaut-alums, Voss will be making his fifth shuttle flight when he blasts off for his extended space station stay.
Last May Voss was slated to receive an honorary degree at CU-Boulder's commencement along with seven other CU astronaut alumni. He cancelled when he was assigned to a 10-day mission aboard the space shuttle Atlantis, which made a brief stop at the space station so the crew could help prepare it for human habitation. Voss made spacewalks totaling seven hours during the mission.
Voss visited Boulder in December 2000 to receive his honorary degree at a special luncheon with Chancellor Richard Byyny and returned a University Medal to Byyny that he had taken with him on his May 2000 shuttle flight.
He also was the featured speaker at the engineering college's fall commencement recognition ceremony, where he returned a silk flag he had flown in space for the college celebrating its new Discovery Learning Center.
Voss also made time to speak to classes from Southern Hills Middle School in Boulder and Longmont's Burlington Elementary School during his Boulder trip.
The Discovery shuttle crew taking Voss and the other two Expedition Two astronauts to the space station also will include Commander Bill Weatherbee, Pilot Jim Kelly and Mission Specialists Andy Thomas and Paul Richards. The crew will return the Expedition One space station astronauts to Earth.
The shuttle will carry the Italian-built Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, one of three cargo-carrying vessels slated for delivery to the space station. The modules will serve as the space station's "moving vans," carrying laboratory racks filled with equipment, experiments and supplies to-and-from the station via various space shuttles.
One of Voss' charges will be to monitor experiments to be sent up on an April 2001 space shuttle from CU-Boulder's BioServe Space Technology Center, housed in the aerospace engineering department. The experiments are designed to characterize the effect of weightlessness on the increased production of antibiotics in space.
The experiments are a collaboration between Research Associate David Klaus of BioServe and Brystol Myers-Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute of Wallingford, Conn. Klaus also is an associate professor in aerospace engineering sciences.
Voss previously flew on a 1991 military flight aboard Atlantis and a 1992 military flight aboard Columbia. He also was the payload commander for a 1995 mission that successfully deployed and retrieved the SPARTAN satellite.